One thing I’m pretty “sure” about this picture is it’s going to tick quite a number of language purists off. But then, a shocking majority of young Chinese will often mix English into their otherwise Mandarin Chinese conversations. This got to the better of me at Baker Street tube station earlier today, when I was running out of words in Chinese with a fellow academic colleague (also Chinese), and I had to resort to a little bit of “assisted English” to get the message across.
My end, this is less a matter of concern for “lingo purists” as I’m somewhat with them — fully aware that Chinese is at the risk of being “eaten away” by “100% English”. Hu Jintao’s years saw a campaign, if ever so brief, to force government TV anchors to completely abandon Chinese as much as possible. Even TLAs (three-letter abbreviations) in English were officially frowned upon. But then, the language purification campaign came and went. ▶
Jau sun dischillusinà, SWISS!
Ti sas bain: Tgi che sa rumantsch sa dapli!
For 2014, I avoided flying with SWISS International Air Lines because I totally exploded into a year-long fit of fury after a bill to limit immigration from the rest of Europe passed by the narrowest of margins.
So when the year-long self-imposed ban lapsed in 2015, I returned to flying “my” bit of the world. To my absolute shock and horror, though: it looked like SWISS had done away with Rumantsch, certainly on their displays and other items, and where I could easily brush up my knowledge of Deutsch, Français, Italiano and Rumantsch (in addition to English), this was simply gone. Never mind it was spoken by “just” 0.5% of the Swiss population and has six or seven variants; it’s part of Switzerland and you simply don’t throw it away! ▶
Beginning today, I’ll gladly do pro bono language lessons in the following languages for the following bodies in the following countries:
Bodies: National railways, city metro, transport police, visas, and immigration.
Languages and Countries: English for China (with future option of German, French, Italian, and, at a much later date, Rumantsch); English and Chinese for Switzerland.
And the reason(s) why? In bullet-point form, real quick, here’s why:
- The 2014 Handbook of Everyday English for Beijing, a work of a whole smorgasbord of language and media experts, had me deeply involved in the project. It was a great project to work together on — we met with some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field, which included translators at the Chinese Foreign Ministry and at key national universities. I did much of the translation and a fair load of the proofreading, as well as the VOs and video show presentations (hopefully they’ll be live soon).
- That Handbook had a lot of content which was precisely related to public transit, visas and immigration, and how the police are asked questions by visitors. I’ve also been through many of these (over a million kilometres in 220+ cities across 24 countries / territories); I’m now on my sixth passport). ▶
As of late, I’ve been downloading uTalk language iApps like crazy. I desperately want those in Manju gisun (the Manchu language), Shanghainese, Tianjinese and Persian / Farsi, but already, I’m happy with the set I have: Cantonese, Tibetan, Swiss-German, French, Italian, Romansh, Spanish, Portuguese, Brasilero, Dutch, Korean, Latin, Arabic, Russian, Swedish, Bengali, Greek, Hebrew, Hindu, Indonesian, Irish, Japanese, Luxembourgish, Mongolian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese and Esperanto. (That’s 28 in all. It’s scary for a start…)
That encompasses my “6+4” lingo list: the ten languages I know. They include the core languages (English and Mandarin Chinese), all four Swiss national languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh), as well as Spanish, Korean, Dutch and Latin. (Tibi optima gracias ago — thanks in Latin — for bearing with me this long…) ▶
I’ll be on Radio Beijing’s well-known Music Radio tonight (21:00-22:00 Beijing time), 20 July 2011, talking about multilingualism, English in China, and this insanely fun Chinglish phenomenon. I knew that I had to stay in the business of — well, finding and rooting out Chinglish, when I went to the bank and they asked me for my Sex of Gender.
(Male, in all cases.)
I’m also going to be, as they say in perfect, excellent Chinglish, make big the propaganda about my latest Chinglish concoction — Jiong Chinglish (囧图就在你身边: 雷人 Chinglish), my April 2011 debut work. I might be able to sneak in on some of my latest findings. I’ll leave you with one of these now:
(Temporary Bus Stop)